The Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone again, and with it another Black Friday has passed as well. Ah yes… Black Friday. There was a time not too long ago that I’d participate in the excitement of the day by waking up at 5 am and sitting outside of a Toys R Us or Best Buy and wait for the doors to open. Rushing inside to see what kind of bargains I could find to save a little cash during the holidays. Everybody knows that the holidays can be crazy expensive and you can’t blame people for wanting to get the most out of their hard earned dollar. With my two young girls and a new nephew this year I know I certainly wouldn’t mind saving a buck or two. But in the last few years something has happened to this unofficial start of the holiday season. Something ugly.
I first started noticing it when the time most stores began to open crept earlier and earlier into the morning. All of a sudden 5am wasn’t good enough. People need to start shopping at midnight! “Yeah, let’s go shopping at midnight so we can squeeze a few more hours of shopping in.” But then that wasn’t good enough either. All of a sudden waiting until Friday was too long, we had to start on Thanksgiving itslef. At first we were content to wait until 8pm or so, but now most stores open around 4 or 5 pm. You’re not even done digesting your cranberries by the time you get in line at Wal-Mart. Unless of course you’re K-Mart and you just open up Thanksgiving morning. Because why the hell not? You didn’t want to have to sit next to Grandma at dinner this year anyway.
Part of it too is the raw, animal behavior that seems to boil to the surface when people are competing for the right to purchase a waffle iron at a reduced price. Whether it’s ripping the doors of a Target right off of their hinges or stomping on someones head as they lunge for the pallet of Blu Ray players, people just seem to turn into feral beasts on Black Friday. And it’s spreading like the zombie plaque. It used to be something just for Americans to be ashamed of but now Black Friday seems to have made it’s way to the UK as well. Scenes from across the pond last week looked more like The Hunger Games than holiday shopping.
But besides the desecration of the Thanksgiving holiday, and aside from turning Jo Ann Fabrics into a Roman Colosseum, I think the thing that bothers me the most about it all is just the pure, unfiltered greed that becomes so clear. A day that used to symbolize the start of holiday shopping (which usually means shopping for gifts for others) has now just become an excuse for you to grab all 10 seasons of ‘Bones’ on DVD because you’ll maybe one day think about probably watching that show. Black Friday exposes the ugly side of ourselves, our completely self absorbed desire to have as much stuff as we can get our hands on. Because our self worth is judged by how much cool stuff we have.
It’s easy to get depressed when year after year you watch people behave in such an unattractive manner, but I think that we can use that day to do some good too. Maybe the next time you’re shopping and you see that awesome limited edition Super Smash Bros. Gamecube controller you want so bad, you stop and go grab some toys to donate to Toys For Tots instead. Or maybe throw an extra few dollars into that Salvation Army kettle. Anything to try and counteract the selfishness that is trying to overtake the holidays. C’mon people, didn’t anyone else watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street?
If everyone did just one thing to help another person during the holidays, no matter how big or small the gesture. One thing to help out those that are struggling this time of year, I think there may just be some hope for us after all.
To find a donation location near you visit Toys For Tots